X

Looks like you are a new visitor to this site. Hello!

Welcome to Hope For Film! Come participate in the discussion, and I encourage you to enter your email address in the sidebar and subscribe. It's free! And easy! If you have any suggestions on how to improve this website or suggestions for topics please don't hesitate to write in to any of the blogs.

You can also follow me on Twitter or Facebook.

(If you keep getting this message, you probably have cookies turned off.)

February 3 at 8:15am

Sundance Sale Dissection: Septien

By Ted Hope

Today’s guest post is from attorney and sales rep George Rush.  It is part one of two. George handled the sale of Michael Tully’s Septian to IFC’s Sundance Selects.

I have worked as a lawyer or a producer’s rep on hundreds of films over the years, and this experience has made me quite skeptical about the business model for independent producers.  The business is worse than it has been historically, but it is still the same very basic model.  You produce a film, a distributor exploits those rights.  You are good at creating content, they are good at marketing.  Hopefully those two things come together to benefit both parties.

I’m a hyper skeptic of producers essentially acting as their own distributors because generally they aren’t strong in both skill sets, and thus something usually suffers.  So I usually assume a producer is good at producing, and try to leave it at that.

Most of what I work on is low budget films with few if any stars.  Ten years ago, I considered a low budget film under two million dollars.  Today, I consider it under $500,000 and believe if you do something for a larger budget without a truly bankable cast, you are being reckless with your budget.

The distribution business has become tougher and they are paying less for content, and thus budgets go down correspondingly.  So how can you make something quality for under $500K—most people fail at this effort and there is a glut of so so films that just can’t compete with larger budgeted film—they are clearly inferior.  Indeed, most festival films in this budget range will never see the light of day beyond the festivals.  However, I don’t know how, but some people do.  It takes an extremely resourceful producer and director who is willing to take some chances to pull it off.

Enter Michael Tully’s Septien.  I hadn’t met Michael before, but I was somewhat familiar with him from Hammer to Nail.  He called me up and said he had a fucked up film that got into Sundance Midnight section.  As I listened to him, it didn’t sound like a genre film, but something that defied categorization.  He sent me a screener, and I really had no expectation when I popped it in.

I had worked on plenty of fucked up films, but most were weird for the sake of being weird and really didn’t have a life beyond a slender contrarian audience.  So I watched Michael’s film and it was fucked up, but it wasn’t weird for the sake of being weird.  There was something strange, unsettling, and wholly original about it.  I watched it again, and I was sold.  I loved it.

I lack a poker face, so I’ve found that trying to sell a film I didn’t like was pretty clear to the buyers.   I only rep a film if I am actually into it, and I loved this one. So I was in, but the film had challenges.  The first was how to characterize this film in a nutshell and who the audience was.  The film did not fit neatly into box.

I came up with a lot of ways to describe Septien — but my refernces often veered into more obscure things like Dogtooth and Henry Darger.  Cool things for sure, but not exactly elements that scream big audience.  I also felt like the audience would be cool indie kids and would build buzz from there.  I know distributors have a difficult time reaching audiences under 30.  That audience is accustomed to watching things digitally for free.  Our challenges for the film are the indie audience skews older (my parents love The King’s Speech), and that for a distributor, this film would be as hard to market as it was for me to describe.

What to do?  Check back tomorrow for part two.

For another angle on why 38 Films — Some dark — Sold At Sundance 2011, check out Anthony Kaufman’s article here.

George Rush is an entertainment attorney and producer’s rep in San Francisco.

  • Digg
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • Print

90 Comments

leave a comment
  1. www / Feb 3 at 8:15am

    You’re so cool! I do not think I have read through something like that before. So good to find someone with a few unique thoughts on this subject matter. Seriously.. thank you for starting this up. This web site is something that is required on the web, someone with some originality!

  2. www / Feb 3 at 8:15am

    There is certainly a great deal to know about this topic. I really like all the points you have made.

  3. www / Feb 3 at 8:15am

    Howdy! This post couldn’t be written much better! Looking at this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He always kept talking about this. I will forward this article to him. Fairly certain he’s going to have a good read. Thank you for sharing!

  4. www / Feb 3 at 8:15am

    I’m very pleased to find this site. I want to to thank you for your time for this particularly wonderful read!! I definitely appreciated every part of it and I have you book-marked to look at new stuff in your site.

  5. the next big thing / Feb 3 at 8:15am

    whoah this blog is magnificent i really like studying your posts. Keep up the good work! You already know, many people are looking round for this info, you can aid them greatly.

  6. www / Feb 3 at 8:15am

    I’m impressed, I must say. Rarely do I encounter a blog that’s both equally educative and interesting, and without a doubt, you have hit the nail on the head. The issue is something which too few folks are speaking intelligently about. I’m very happy I found this during my search for something relating to this.

  7. www / Feb 3 at 8:15am

    Aw, this was a very nice post. Taking a few minutes and actual effort to make a top notch article… but what can I say… I hesitate a whole lot and don’t seem to get anything done.

  8. www / Feb 3 at 8:15am

    I really like reading an article that will make people think. Also, many thanks for allowing for me to comment!

  9. www / Feb 3 at 8:15am

    It’s hard to find educated people on this topic, however, you sound like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

  10. www / Feb 3 at 8:15am

    I was very pleased to uncover this site. I wanted to thank you for your time for this particularly fantastic read!! I definitely enjoyed every bit of it and I have you book marked to see new things in your site.

  11. online loans bad credit / Feb 3 at 8:15am

    It’s actually a cool and useful piece of info. I’m glad that you shared this helpful info with us. Please stay us informed like this. Thank you for sharing.|

  12. www / Feb 3 at 8:15am

    May I just say what a relief to uncover somebody that actually understands what they’re talking about on the web. You certainly understand how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More people really need to look at this and understand this side of your story. It’s surprising you are not more popular because you surely possess the gift.

  13. www / Feb 3 at 8:15am

    I must thank you for the efforts you have put in writing this blog. I am hoping to view the same high-grade blog posts by you later on as well. In fact, your creative writing abilities has motivated me to get my own, personal website now ;)

  14. www / Feb 3 at 8:15am

    Everything is very open with a clear clarification of the challenges. It was really informative. Your site is extremely helpful. Thank you for sharing!

  15. www / Feb 3 at 8:15am

    I really like reading through an article that will make people think. Also, many thanks for permitting me to comment!

  16. www / Feb 3 at 8:15am

    Great post. I will be dealing with a few of these issues as well..

  17. www / Feb 3 at 8:15am

    This is a very good tip particularly to those new to the blogosphere. Simple but very accurate info… Many thanks for sharing this one. A must read article!

  18. www / Feb 3 at 8:15am

    It’s hard to come by educated people about this topic, but you seem like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

  19. www / Feb 3 at 8:15am

    Good blog post. I definitely love this website. Keep it up!

  20. www / Feb 3 at 8:15am

    This blog was… how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I’ve found something that helped me. Thanks!

  21. www / Feb 3 at 8:15am

    Howdy! This post couldn’t be written much better! Going through this post reminds me of my previous roommate! He always kept preaching about this. I’ll forward this post to him. Pretty sure he’s going to have a good read. Thanks for sharing!

  22. www / Feb 3 at 8:15am

    Good information. Lucky me I ran across your website by chance (stumbleupon). I have saved as a favorite for later!

  23. www / Feb 3 at 8:15am

    It’s hard to come by experienced people about this topic, however, you sound like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

  24. www / Feb 3 at 8:15am

    Your style is very unique compared to other folks I have read stuff from. Thank you for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I will just bookmark this web site.

  25. www / Feb 3 at 8:15am

    An intriguing discussion is worth comment. I think that you should write more about this issue, it might not be a taboo matter but typically people don’t speak about these subjects. To the next! All the best!!

  26. www / Feb 3 at 8:15am

    Having read this I thought it was extremely enlightening. I appreciate you taking the time and effort to put this informative article together. I once again find myself personally spending a lot of time both reading and posting comments. But so what, it was still worth it!

  27. www / Feb 3 at 8:15am

    Can I simply just say what a comfort to uncover somebody who truly understands what they are talking about on the internet. You certainly know how to bring a problem to light and make it important. A lot more people really need to check this out and understand this side of your story. I can’t believe you aren’t more popular given that you most certainly possess the gift.

  28. www / Feb 3 at 8:15am

    Your style is unique compared to other folks I have read stuff from. Thanks for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I’ll just book mark this web site.

  29. www / Feb 3 at 8:15am

    Can I simply say what a comfort to discover someone who truly knows what they are discussing online. You definitely understand how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More and more people need to look at this and understand this side of the story. I was surprised you’re not more popular because you most certainly have the gift.

  30. www / Feb 3 at 8:15am

    Next time I read a blog, I hope that it doesn’t disappoint me just as much as this particular one. After all, Yes, it was my choice to read through, but I genuinely thought you would have something helpful to talk about. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something that you could possibly fix if you were not too busy looking for attention.

  31. www / Feb 3 at 8:15am

    That is a great tip particularly to those fresh to the blogosphere. Brief but very accurate info… Thank you for sharing this one. A must read article!

  32. www / Feb 3 at 8:15am

    Everything is very open with a really clear clarification of the issues. It was truly informative. Your site is useful. Many thanks for sharing!

  33. www / Feb 3 at 8:15am

    Aw, this was an exceptionally good post. Taking a few minutes and actual effort to make a really good article… but what can I say… I hesitate a whole lot and don’t seem to get anything done.

  34. www / Feb 3 at 8:15am

    An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto a friend who has been conducting a little research on this. And he in fact bought me lunch due to the fact that I discovered it for him… lol. So let me reword this…. Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending time to discuss this subject here on your website.

  35. click to find out more / Feb 3 at 8:15am

    Nice post. I was checking constantly this blog and I’m impressed! Very helpful information particularly the last part :) I care for such information much. I was seeking this particular info for a long time. Thank you and best of luck.|

  36. www / Feb 3 at 8:15am

    This excellent website truly has all of the info I wanted concerning this subject and didn’t know who to ask.

  37. www / Feb 3 at 8:15am

    When I initially left a comment I seem to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on whenever a comment is added I get 4 emails with the same comment. Perhaps there is a means you can remove me from that service? Cheers!

  38. www / Feb 3 at 8:15am

    Having read this I thought it was extremely enlightening. I appreciate you spending some time and effort to put this informative article together. I once again find myself personally spending way too much time both reading and commenting. But so what, it was still worthwhile!

  39. www / Feb 3 at 8:15am

    Oh my goodness! Amazing article dude! Thanks, However I am encountering troubles with your RSS. I don’t know why I cannot subscribe to it. Is there anyone else getting identical RSS problems? Anybody who knows the answer can you kindly respond? Thanks!!

  40. www / Feb 3 at 8:15am

    Having read this I believed it was rather enlightening. I appreciate you taking the time and effort to put this content together. I once again find myself spending a lot of time both reading and posting comments. But so what, it was still worth it!

Leave a Comment

This site could not have been built without the help and insight of Michael Morgenstern. My thanks go out to him.

Help save indie film and give this guy a job in web design or film!